One-feathered birds usually go together, but the epidemic has divided Canada’s “snow” hot weather immigrants into two camps: those who stay at home this winter and those who travel to Florida at any cost.
Nearly one million Canadians make the annual pilgrimage, fleeing to South America, otherwise the gray and snowy months may pass.
The corona virus has led the majority to avoid traveling this year – but for those who keep up with Canada’s constant calls, the price tag on the beach in the winter is high.
As the land border between the United States and Canada has been closed for non-essential travel since March, Canada has asked its citizens to stay home.
“Now is not the right time to vacation abroad,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday, adding that there was no sign of the country’s second corona virus wave declining.
About 900,000 Canadians spend most of the winter in Florida and other South American states, Johanne Plane, director of the Canadian Snowboard Association for the French-speaking province, told AFF.
However, he estimates that only 30 percent of this number do so.
The rules on the US side are very welcoming to people in the sun-starved North: the country allows Canadians to fly even for non-essential trips. Canada, on the other hand, does not allow Americans in the same situation.
While Canadians in Florida do not have to respect isolated rules, they must do so within 14 days of returning home.
Those who want to travel by car or motorhome, meanwhile, make use of legal loopholes to avoid closed land boundaries.
Michael Couture, CEO of Quebec-based Transport KMC, leads the way.
His clients board a plane in the suburbs of Montreal and arrive in Flatzburg, New York 12 minutes later, where a KMC employee meets them with their vehicle and takes them across the border.
The experience is not cheap: it costs $ 500 (approximately 90,390) per air ticket and returns the customer within 1,000 miles (90 km) of the vehicle.
Couturier said about 2,000 people have used the service so far.
– ‘Can’t take it anymore’ –
“All we want is … peace of mind and happiness, not darkness,” she told AFP, who recently came to Florida with her husband.
“We can not take this anymore. We want to live our lives. We are 60 years old. We decided to live in a motor home,” he said, asking not to use his name.
Whether or not to go south is a “mind-boggling decision” for those who spend all year in motor homes, Blaine said.
Such glaciers usually do not have a permanent home and migrate seasonally between Canada and Florida, often for many years, he said.
Companies like KMC pay Snobards more dollars to transport their vehicle to Florida for an average of $ 1,500-1,800 – but for this, 500 can cost up to 4,500.
“Thanks to the avalanches, we had to hire more staff to meet the need,” Couture said. “This is a good situation for us now.”
More than 3.6 million Canadians officially visited Florida last year, or one in 10.
Plane said she and her husband would not be among those coming this winter and did not want to run the risk of catching the corona virus.
Florida has more than twice as many cases as Canada – about 1.2 million – despite a population of just over half.
“When you are sick, you are vulnerable, not even in our own country, even if we have working health insurance,” he said.
“It’s good that we’re close to family because you never know what will happen,” he said.
jl / bfm / ft